I was interested in my CHIP site (S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition based out of the Grant County Health Department) because of the variety of projects they offered to help make Grant County a safer place to live. I was able to work directly with around 350 youths in the area to educate them on the risks of substance abuse though the Youth Leadership Conference and Rural Safety Days. I also helped to organize, promote and present suicide prevention trainings to residents of Grant and Lafayette counties. I compiled the Grant County Community Assessment, which is a comprehensive report looking at the trends in illicit drug use and risky behaviors in the county. Working at the health department, I shadowed an environmental health coordinator, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutritionist, county jail nurse and hospice nurse. I worked directly with community members to prevent/reduce substance abuse and other risky behaviors.
I worked alongside my mentor Kathy Marty, the projects director for the S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition. She really took me under her wing and let me be a part of all the great projects that the S.A.F.E. Coalition is working on. I was able to attend coalition and oversight meetings with members and partners of the coalition.
Our online assignments helped me take advantage of all of the opportunities that this wonderful internship offered. It was especially helpful to learn what the other interns were doing around the state!
My goal for the future is to become a primary care physician in a rural setting. The S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition exposed me to the variety of drug abuse problems in this rural area and how in the future I will be able to help treat the disease of addiction. I was fortunate to attend educational conferences on synthetic drugs and the effect of opioids on infants. I am so enthusiastic about my public health experience that I have continued to volunteer at the S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition this fall by assisting at events like additional Suicide Prevention Trainings and Oh SNAP at UW-Platteville. My CHIP internship showed me the vastness of the public health field and how in my future career I can work as part of the team to improve the health of rural communities.
I was interested in CHIP because I wanted to expand my knowledge of public health and gain real-world experience in the process. I came in with minimal expectations and left with more experience than I could have imagined.
I gained numerous skills over the eight weeks that better prepared me for my future endeavors. Foremost, I gained a wealth of knowledge in public health including the role that social determinants, policy and education play in the community.
My first-hand experience came from conducting research with the low-income population in Green Bay and providing wellness education. I saw a whole new side to the community I plan to later serve. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet and work with outstanding individuals from Live54218, local health agencies and area businesses who I hope will help support me when I enter the workforce.
The experience of conducting research during my CHIP internship will better prepare me for my future academic studies. My role as an intern included being an educator, a researcher, a project manager and a wellness advocate. As a future nurse, I will need to play each of these roles to provide the highest-quality care for my patients.
It is astounding how much you can learn about a community while working in public health. Despite growing up in Green Bay, I discovered a whole new side to the community I love. I witnessed multiple areas of need but I also saw wonderful initiatives in progress to improve the area.
As a nursing student, I was very interested in participating in CHIP because it would provide me with a solid foundation for what the role of a public health nurse is.
I wanted to work with the community on the Red Cliff Reservation because I enjoy promoting health in different cultural settings. Specifically with Red Cliff, I wanted to better understand the challenges this Ojibwe community faces in attaining healthy food options. In just eight weeks, I was able to gain understanding that in order to make healthy lifestyle changes in a community, many components are necessary. Local businesses, schools and governments all work together alongside the health clinic to make a more prominent impact.
My plan for the next few years is to work in a hospital setting. Through my experience, I became more familiar with the resources available in a community that I can share with patients in need of help. I also appreciate the need to address healthy lifestyles and any barriers a person might have in achieving that. One of the most important points I took away from this
internship is that to be successful as health care professionals and make the most effective changes, we must be respectful and remember to incorporate the culture of a community.
Liz Lindner, a recent UW-Madison graduate, spent summer and fall 2014 interning in Janesville with Rock County UW-Extension, working on their Strong Women Program. Liz used her public health advocacy skills to make change within the community by encouraging the Janesville YMCA to discontinue offering tanning services. Recently, Liz was accepted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at UW-Milwaukee. “I know my AHEC internships could have been the deciding factor,” she says. “I’m so grateful to have had these opportunities before I go on to graduate school in the healthcare field.”
Keona Thompson participated in CHIP along with her enrollment in Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health (RUSCH). Keona interned as a Medication Assistant, concentrating on return on investment and other quality improvement measures. “My time as a CHIP intern allowed me to gain experience in urban medicine and the extreme health disparities members of urban communities face,” Keona says. “From the weekly public health seminars, I gained a better understanding of the role public health plays in improving the health of communities. Because of CHIP, I have become further committed to a medical career. I hope to specialize in primary care for the underserved of urban Wisconsin.”
Eileen Mallof, a Marquette University student interested in preventative medicine, interned in the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) community, which she says “was a great fit for my interest in cross-cultural healthcare.” Eileen worked on a summer day camp for tribal youth, Prevention Matters newsletter, and a new Reach Out and Read program through FCP’s primary care providers. “The FCP community taught me invaluable lessons about sustainability, relationship-based care, and respect for a community’s priorities, especially as a guest there,” Eileen says. “CHIP will serve me well in my future aspirations to work in public health and international development.”
Trevor Cooper is studying neurobiology and global health at UW-Madison. Trevor learned of CHIP through past participation in AHEC’s Interprofessional Healthcare Case Competition. “I was interested in my placement site because I spent a lot of time in the area while growing up and wanted to learn more about it,” Trevor says. “I’m interested in practicing rural medicine and I figured what better way to understand a rural community than to work for the public health department.” Trevor appreciated the broad range of shadowing experiences, which revealed how a health department addresses all determinants of health. “This experience made me realize an interdisciplinary approach is neces¬sary to combat health disparities.”
Drawing on her academic introduction to public health, Brooke Resch worked on the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department’s Community Health Assessment (CHA). “I created many CHA materials and shared them with community members via live presentations, the department’s website, magazine articles, and more,” Brooke says. In addition to improving her public speaking skills and professional networking, Brooke adds, “the internship taught me a lot about community health and what challenges rural areas face when it comes to their health. These are the experiences that I was hoping to have in CHIP, and I’d recommend the program to anyone interested in public health.“
While interning in Cashton, Kate Noelke synthesized data about community and employee wellness programs to evaluate and improve the health center’s current program. Kate collaborated with physician Liz Bade, MD, on an abstract:“Creation of a Successful Community Wellness Partnership in Rural Wisconsin,” which was accepted for presentation at the Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN) Convocation. Kate has continued to work with Dr. Bade on further research related tocommunity wellness partnerships and rural-population health outcomes. Following her internship, Kate was hired by Scenic Bluffs as Director of Development to continue work she began during her CHIP internship.